Cops provoked riots: rights league
The Montreal Gazette
Intense waves of tear gas and the use of water cannons and plastic bullets in a show of police muscle played a key role in provoking the violent bedlam that hit Quebec City on Saturday, human-rights observers say.
"Police went too far. It's a form of repression," said Andre Paradis, head of the Ligue des Droits et Libertes, which had teams of observers monitoring events surrounding the Summit of the Americas.
The watchdog group said it deplored what it called an unjustified switch in police tactics around the security perimeter yesterday. The tougher tactics were in stark contrast to the "calm and restraint" shown on the first day of the summit, it said.
"More police muscle and intense, very intense tear gas is a factor that contributed to what happened later," Paradis said, referring to the violent clashes and a rash of bonfires, broken windows and other property damage inflicted in the lower part of the city early yesterday morning.
Right from the beginning of Saturday's confrontations, police use of tear gas was escalated from the day before, league member Sam Boskey said. Tear gas was used long before some protesters tore down parts of the chain-link fence, piercing the security perimeter briefly in at least two areas, he said.
Waves of tear gas and water blasts drove protesters down residential streets. "It was a mop-up operation" by the police, Boskey said.
But the group also denounced the "5 per cent" of protesters who lobbed Molotov cocktails, bricks, bottles and other projectiles over the fence at police. A large majority of the thousands of people in the streets were protesting peacefully, singing songs and chanting, Paradis said.
But because of the police tactics, "many were severely injured, including one man who had an emergency tracheotomy after being hit with a (plastic) bullet in the Adam's apple," he said.
The continuous firing of plastic bullets and tear-gas canisters, directly and at close range, was "unjustifiable and dangerous," Paradis said.
He cited the shooting of a demonstrator with a stun gun as an act of police brutality. "He was lying in the street and he posed no threat."
There was also direct gassing of people trying to help the injured, he said.
The group also expressed concerns about the treatment arrested demonstrators received at Orsainville prison.
People who had been exposed to tear gas were made to strip, in full view of police and visitors, while getting a change of clothes, said league member and Universite de Montreal criminology professor Jean-Claude Bernheim.
And some protesters seeking legal aid were denied access to lawyers for up to 24 hours, Bernheim charged.
Some of those arrested were detained in a bus for up to 10 hours, while others were confined to prison cells with up to five others, he said.
The league will be compiling a report in the coming weeks, Paradis said. It also expects to decide shortly whether to file complaints with police, the provincial justice minister or the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
An Anarchist Statement against the FTAA (and capitalism in general)
On April 20th, heads-of-state from every country in South and North America and the Caribbean (except for Cuba), along with delegates from many of the world's wealthiest corporations, will meet in Quebec City, Canada in an attempt to finish negotiations regarding a trade pact called the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Accompanying them will be over 5,000 riot police, secret service agents, undercover agents, private cops, and other armed personnel-- amounting to the largest police mobilization in Canadian history. Additionally, a ten-foot fence, topped with barbed wire, is being erected around the periphery of downtown Quebec. Officials think this will aid the police in their attempt to enable the representatives of the wealthy elite to carry out a successful meeting, undisturbed (or so they hope) by the tens of thousands of activists and concerned individuals who plan to go to Quebec to protest the hideous implications of the FTAA. The corporate media will be there too, of course, to distort the opinions of the activists (especially anarchists) as well as the truth on how the FTAA's policies will affect the majority of the Western Hemisphere's population-- while presenting the public with the lies told to them by their powerful corporate bosses.
The FTAA is the latest attempt by the rich and powerful to extend capitalist relations to literally every corner of the globe. Like other trade agreements (World Trade Organization, European Union, etc.) the FTAA, with its emphasis on unrestrained economic growth, will lead to an increase in poverty, militarization, and ecological destruction. The objective of the FTAA is to extend an existing treaty, called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA-- which has already lead to an increase in poverty, militarization, and ecological destruction in North America, particularly Mexico), to all countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. Doing so will open all included borders to economic liberalization-- forcing the nation-states involved to forego environmental protection and labor laws that may be viewed by the corporate elite as barriers to such "free trade." International borders will not, of course, be open to the flood of Latin American immigrants who will eventually head north to escape the utter poverty that the FTAA, if enacted, will inevitably create in southern countries.
We oppose the FTAA and all so-called "free-trade" agreements because they are an extension of capitalism-- an economic system based on ruthless competition, which creates hierarchical social relationships of rich/poor, exploiter/exploited, and have/have-nots. It is a system so entrenched in our daily lives and interpersonal relationships that we cannot escape it without demolishing it completely. Most of us experience it's cruel reality every day at work-- where we are forced to slave away, under degrading and humiliating conditions, just so that we may be able to afford the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter needed to keep us and our families alive. Others of us experience it at school, where we can only hope to enjoy a few moments of youthful bliss before succumbing to a similar fate of utter boredom and meaninglessness. Still others are not even so lucky. Victims of poverty and often institutionalized racism, they languish in the concrete hell of America's growing prison system. Let us also not forget the others: the homeless, the illegal aliens, the forgotten seniors quietly withering away in nursing homes, and the hundreds of thousands internationally who die each year in wars for capitalist lust.
Inherent in the maddening logic of capitalism is a "grow or die" imperative that urges it to expand relentlessly-- constantly seeking new markets to exploit, ever cheaper sources of labor, and new ecosystems to destroy in its quest for more raw materials. We therefore reject the calls of "Anti-Globalization" liberals who denounce "global capitalism" and "corporate capitalism" as if a return to locally based capitalism would be any sort of a desirable or plausible alternative. We reject the insane, exploitative capitalist system as a whole, in both its global and local forms. We also reject reformist and nationalist calls for "green" politics and stronger state sovereignty. Support for such efforts will only continue the reign of capital or create new forms of tyranny and authority. The state, like capital, is an institutionalized form of violence and oppression that must be destroyed.
Capitalism, backed by government and the patriarchal, racist, ecocidal worldview of Western Civilization, is the root source of the vast misery currently inflicting the majority of the Earth's inhabitants. The gross expansion of capitalism into its present phase has created a situation in which the very future of life on Earth is under threat. The precious ecosystems of the Earth are being destroyed irreparably, an our very humanity is becoming lost to the artificial, computerized, genetically-engineered future of capitalist progress. Time is running out. The days of pleading to the consciences of those in power are over. We have learned from history and experience that this rotten order cannot be reformed.
So let us go to Quebec City on April 20th to shut down the FTAA-- but let's do so with a larger goal to shut down capitalism and the state. Let us fight every day, in our workplaces, schools, communities, and autonomous cells, by daylight and by the darkness of night, for a world in which human beings, collectively and individually, may have the freedom and autonomy to make their own decisions regarding the issues directly affecting their lives. Settling for anything less is a compromise to our liberty and our humanity.
For more information on the FTAA, please read the subsequent article and visit the following links:
CLC Statement on the FTAA
Corporate Democracy and the Race to the Bottom
The OAS/FTAA and Womyn
The FTAA and Environmental Destruction - How It Happens
by Aurita Withers
The FTAA is an agreement designed to help fuel capitalism. Capitalism and environmental protection are directly contradictory as capitalism must exploit and destroy to survive. Unlimited economic growth is impossible in a finite ecological system.
**environmental regulations will be eliminated or drastically reduced if they interfere with profit under the FTAA
**the FTAA is practically being written by business
**discrimination between products based on how they are produced (environmentally friendly or not) will be illegal
**eco certification will most likely be illegal
**labeling products which are more environmentally friendly could become illegal.
**environmentally friendly First Nations initiatives would be made virtually impossible
Reduction and Elimination of Environmental Regulations:
Increasingly, international trade agreements overrule domestic laws designed to protect the environment and civil society. International trade agreements also take priority over international agreements that set environmental targets such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Kyoto Protocol. Such agreements are bargained on good faith and not legally binding whereas the FTAA and NAFTA are.
As a result, if environmental or social regulations interfere with the ability of a transnational corporation to make a profit those regulations will most likely be eliminated. The FTAA pays lip service to the maintenance of biodiversity and a healthy environment throughout its literature. However, as they strive to make our trade liberalization and environmental policies mutually supportive it is clear that the environment will always take the back burner to the economy.
example: MMT is a gasoline additive which is toxic and linked to many health and environmental problems. Ethyl Corp, an American company, produces MMT which is banned in the united states. kanada banned MMT for its environmental and health consequences. Ethyl Corp. sued kanada under NAFTA, claiming that kanada had expropriated its business. kanada settled with Ethyl, issued an apology, paid Ethyl millions of dollars and liftedthe ban.
The FTAA, has a blatant bias towards industry built into it. Every time the FTAA meets to negotiate, the ABF (American Business Forum) also meets. The ABF offsets its meetings so that the FTAA begins just as the ABF is ending. By this time the ABF has complied both a review of all nations progress in trade liberalization as well as recommendations for the next round. The recommendations are always incorporated into the FTAA with little discussion. Essentially the ABF writes the FTAA, an agreement that will have a profound impact on every aspect of the environment and social life in the Americas.
In Toronto, where the FTAA was last negotiated, the Prime Minister of Canada. He was some what delayed by the angry protesters outside who were determined to have their opposition to the FTAA recognized. These protesters took direct action as they knew their voices would be silenced otherwise. The Hemispheric Social Alliance, which met at the same time as the ABF, also provided the FTAA negotiators with recommendations. The recommendations were received by the chief Canadian trade negotiator, Pierre Pedagru, rather than the Prime Minister, and were virtually ignored in the negotiations. This is but one of the reasons that reformism wont work.
Corporate exclusivity in the advisory process for international trade negotiations increasingly results in agreements which are strictly profit oriented. These agreements have no concern for social justice or the environment and will work to quickly erode any environmental or social progress that has been made.
Industry, which is motivated by profit, is unable to police itself in the interest of public good. Now that industry has been given the ability to essentially write international trade agreements, which have systemically undermined existing environmental regulation, the planet is put at serious risk of extensive, irreparable environmental devastation.
One initiative that many communities are taking to protect the environment is by having strong procurement policies. This means that a school, city, province or state, nation or other group sets up regulations surrounding the types of products purchased. For example, many cities have policies that state they will not purchase old-growth wood unless it is ecologically certified. This is because only 1/5 of the worlds ancient forests remain.
Big-business considers this to be an unfair barrier to trade or a non-tariff trade measure (NTM). Many trade agreements argue that there is no difference between products if their final purpose is the same. This means that if something is produced in an ecologically friendly manner or by clearcutting or other devastating ways, there is no difference. Governments cannot discriminate between the two products under the FTAA.
Also, under the FTAA, other NTMs will be illegal. This could include eco-certification, or labeling a product to identify that it was produced in an environmentally friendly manner. It may be illegal to identify products that are more environmentally friendly (such as if something is recycled, if it is second growth, if it is not genetically engineered, etc.) under the FTAA.
The FTAA includes provisions for national treatment. Some governments favor companies which are domestic with lower taxes, less rigorous contract selection, etc. This is also done for companies owned by marginalized groups. Favorable treatment will be made illegal under the FTAA unless it is applied to all of the signatory nations in the FTAA.
On the West Coast of kanada, there is a movement for First Nations to gain favorable treatment so they can manage their ancestral land. Many of the First Nations initiatives involve non-timber resource extraction and ecologically friendly logging practices. This is being done to both sustain the people in their communities and their ancestral land. Under the FTAA this would be illegal and any favorable treatment given to indigenous peoples to set up their own private enterprises in this way would be eliminated.
The OAS also works to destroy the environment in other ways. It fails to stop human rights abuses when those abuses are caused in protest to the treatment of the environment or to prevent its destruction (eg. the UWa case).
The IDB, Inter-American Development Bank, works to create environmentally destructive mega-projects, such as hydro developments which flood thousands of hectares of ancient forestland a year.
Last Modified May 25, 2000